For this International Education Week we would like to highlight Assistant Professor Pengfei Zhao and her research on the development of ethics guidelines in eastern cultures.

Zhao joined the College of Education this fall and has already become an active member of the UF research community. Last month she received the Global Fellowship from the International Center at UF. This fellowship will help to kickstart her comparative study on the implications of applying western research ethics to eastern cultures in an increasingly global world.

As a methodologist, Zhao is interested in the production of knowledge particularly within the context of globalization.

“Globally the process of knowledge production is closely linked to the mobilization of local ideas and the migration of ideas,” Zhao said.

During her thesis work in northern rural China and through communication with peers, Zhao found that Chinese researchers rely on an in-house review process for ethical review rather than having nationally regulated policy. 

Some higher education institutions in China have been working to create more rigorous ethical guidelines but they have been largely independent of one another. Hong Kong and Taiwan have both created their own review processes.

“They’re trying to establish their own ethical review committees, but they’re trying to do that in many different ways so there is no centralized practice on this,” she said. 

Within most western countries human studies have to pass nationally established ethical guidelines before getting the go ahead. In America the Institutional Review Board (IRB) is nationally regulated and implemented at the institute level, and most countries in western Europe follow research guidelines regulated by both national and EU policies.

Pengfei Zhao